High on the southwest point of Blackdown Common is Culmstock Beacon. It is one of a chain of Elizabethan beacons used for lighting fires to warn of advancing enemies, for example, The Spanish Armada.
The beehive-shaped structure was built of flint. It was rebuilt in 1870 after the collapse of the earlier one.
Culmstock Beacon is a wildlife haven with stunning views, particularly in the late summer when the bell-heather is in bloom. Access via public bridleway.
These days you won’t find a castle at Castle Neroche; instead a majestic forest and the earthen ramparts where an Iron-Age hillfort and a Norman Castle once stood. There are spectacular views over the vale of Taunton towards the Quantock Hills and Exmoor and, on a clear day, you can see as far as the Mendip Hills and Glastonbury Tor.
2,600 years ago Castle Neroche was the site of an impressive Iron Age hillfort, used as a refuge for the surrounding farming communities during attacks from neighbouring tribes.
In the 11th century, William the Conqueror’s half brother Robert, Count of Mortain, built a Motte and Bailey Castle here on this strategically useful hill-top location.
The name Neroche is thought to be derived from the Old English nierra and rechich or rachich, meaning the ‘camp where hunting dogs were kept’.
Staple Hill Easy Access Trail
Staple Hill Easy Access Trail allows everyone, including those with limited mobility, to enjoy the beautiful countryside the Blackdown Hills AONB has to offer.
This is the highest point in the Blackdown Hills and from here you can see spectacular views across the Vale of Taunton. On a clear day you can see all the way to Wales!
Staple Hill is part of the Forestry Commission woodlands and one of the points on the Staple Fitzpaine Herepath.
The Easy Access Trail is a loop walk of 800m, starting from the car parking area and taking in two viewpoints. The trail has been designed and built to national ‘all ability’ access standards and is suitable for disabled access, so it is easy for everyone to use.
The viewpoints have picnic benches and seating and the kissing gates are big enough for wheelchairs and pushchairs. There are also no steep gradients and the wide compacted path surface makes pushing wheelchairs and pushchairs easy.